Golden Era 3.0: How Long Will This Boom Last And What Can We Do To Sustain? (Pollstar Live! Panel Recap)



Jeffrey Azoff, Full Stop Management


Matt Blake, CAA
Lesley Olenik, Live Nation
Cheryl Paglierani, UTA
Rich Schaefer, AEG Presents

“Whatever year we’re in is the best year and the next year is always even better,” Matt Blake, CAA’s head of comedy touring, said during the Pollstar Live! panel exploring the latest edition of the latest Golden Era. “I expect more every year from now into the future.”

Blake was talking specifically about his bailiwick, but that optimism of a culture of abundance was shared by his co-panelists, cutting across genres and markets.

“From a gross and pricing point of view, the use of dynamic pricing has taken it to another level and last year felt particularly robust,” AEG’s President of Global Touring Rich Schaefer said. “For all the technologyt that’s out there…there is nothing that beats the live experience. … The energy feels bigger than even 2022 or ’21 and it’s about great artists. With Taylor (Swift) the show is amazing and there is a real value placed on what people are getting for the money. Fans want a real experience and there needs to be value for them.”

It’s a theme Schaefer returned to later. When Full Stop’s Jeffrey Azoff, moderating the panel, asked what could slow or arrest the Golden Era, Schaefer answered “greed.”

An AEG executive — sitting alongside Live Nation’s Senior Vice President of Global Touring Lesley Olenik — saying that elicited a few chuckles (some uncomfortable) and some sharp intakes of breath, but Schaefer insisted he wasn’t directing criticism specifically.

“We need to be smarter and not chasing a guarantee and working backwards,” he said. “You all think i’m saying something pointed but I’m not. I’m talking about the industry.”

He offered no such caveat after an earlier comment when he said it was challenging “when you invest time and money and develop artist from one level and the next and they get stolen from you for money.”

There was an overwhelming sense from the panel that the fundamentals of the industry remain the same despite the growth that makes it seem like success is as easy as putting an artist on TikTok and then launching an on-sale.

“When an artist has momentum is when you want to get them out to build a fanbase, but one song doesn’t mean headline tour,” UTA partner Cheryl Paglierani said. “It’s all case by case. .. The biggest threat is artists skipping steps and getting caught up in their hype. They go too big too quick and put their touring career in the gutter before it even starts.”

In part, those pitfalls come from an ever savvier consumer.

“[Artists] are creating a culture where the fan is almost part of the show and they have ownership in these live experiences,” Olenik said, Schaefer adding “if you aren’t good, the internet isn’t gonna make you sell out arenas and stadiums.”

Prognosticating, all the panelists predicted another boffo year, with a bit of a hedge.

“It feels like we’re going to have more traffic and hopefully we don’t eat other and cannibalize on ticket sales,” Schaefer said.

As for his company’s most prominent festival, one that’s shown up in headlines as “troubled” due to slow sales, Schaefer insists there’s little reason to worry.

 “Coachella’s sold out every year for God knows the how many years. The reason you’re seeing those stories — ‘it didn’t sell out on the on-sale’ — is that we have set such a high standard.  If other festivals had the numbers ‘tanking Coachella’ had they’d be thrilled,” he said,